The Search for a New Minister

Our journey started in early June 2016 with the KUF congregation nominating members for consideration as representatives on the Ministerial Search Committee. This was followed by a visit from CUC Ministerial Settlement Representative, Jane Bramadat who reviewed the level of commitment involved and outlined the process. The nominees who felt they could take this work on were presented to the congregation and a vote was taken.

Your committee members are: Gordon Darral (Chair), Mara Shaw, Bob Hotrum, Kim Irvine-Albano, Sandra Woodhouse and Kelli Siegwart

The work of the Ministerial Search Committee (MSC) got underway in June, with a team-building retreat at Queens University. It was an intense couple of days as we got better acquainted with each other, developed a time line for our activities, and agreed on decision-making guidelines. With excellent facilitation by Susan Yonge, we elected Gordon Darrall as chairperson, and selected people for other critical roles. Since then we’ve been meeting every two weeks as a group.  In between meetings we’ve all been busy with our individual tasks.

Here is an outline of what work has been done to date and a timeline for what is to come:

September-October 2016 – Congregational Participation and Focus Interviews

A total of 5 small intimate gatherings known as Cottage Meetings were hosted by the MSC members in their homes and after service on Sundays. Focus interviews were also conducted with key members of the congregation including Carol and Daphne. Input was sought from each committee currently active at KUF. Thank you for sharing your concerns as well as your hopes and your dreams for our new minister. The information and themes gathered from these conversations were used to inform the questions we needed to ask in the survey.

In addition to the insights from the Cottage Meetings, the Congregational Survey was developed using a template from the CUC as well as a review of surveys used by congregations who have recently or are currently searching for a new minister. The survey was sent out by email to all members and friends of KUF. We also provided computers to use after two services for those who had difficulty with computer access. We had a great response rate!  Thank you to all who took the time to log on and fill out the questionnaire. Your answers allow us not only to discover who you want as a new minister, but it also allows us to give potential candidates a glimpse of who we are as a congregation. The 2016 Congregational Survey was available to the congregation until October 23rd 2016.  The results are currently being analyzed and a written summary will be provided to the congregation.  Our answers will also be available to potential candidates as part of our Congregational Packet.

October-November 2016

Work is ongoing to develop a compensation package contract (or covenant) draft.

November 20, 2016 is MSC Sunday.  The committee is putting together an informative shared service, with music, an update regarding the minister/board covenant (similar to a contract), a presentation of the survey results, as well as the KUF and Ministerial profiles. We’ll review our timeline, ways of communication between the congregation and the MSC and there will be a question and answer period to ensure mutual understanding of the process.

Preparing a Profile of our Congregation

The matching of potential ministers to a congregation happens in a special area of the Canadian Unitarian Council’s website, which is kind of like an internet dating site. Each congregation looking for a new minister creates a Congregational Record or ‘resume’ of themselves for ministers to review.  This includes the history of the congregation, attendance, financials, strengths and challenges.  Ministers interested in moving to a new congregation review the congregations’ Congregational Record. If they’re interested in a particular congregation, they make their profiles available to the MSC of that congregation. Then the MSC reviews the minister’s profile and decides whether they’d like to find out more about that minister.

Two key aspects of the Congregational Record are the Congregational Profile and the Ministerial Profile. These are short (less than 2 pages) summaries that will be published for comment by members of the congregation before being added to the Congregational Record.  Our Congregational Profile offers candidates a summary of the current congregation, its priorities, strengths and challenges. This is our opportunity to shine, to share our strengths and yet be honest about our challenges.  The Ministerial Profile presents what we most desire in our next minister and what we can offer to support him/her.  The Congregational Record, including our summary Congregational and Ministerial Profiles, is made available to candidates in December.

In the new year a representative from the UUA Transitions Office will be here to present a program calledBeyond Categorical Thinking. This program has been designed by the UUA Department of Faith in Action to promote inclusive thinking and to help prevent unfair discrimination in the ministerial search process. It includes a 3-hour workshop that helps participants examine their own ableism, ageism, heterosexism, racism, and sexism, followed up by a Sunday Service on the topic the following morning. We hope you’ll be able to participate in this event.

December 2016 through April, 2017 – Neutral Pulpits

By December 2016, we will start getting information from ministers interested in coming to our congregation. We will review the minister’s profile of every minister who has expressed interest in being considered by the committee. By January the MSC narrows this list to three or four pre-candidates.

From late-January through to early April, the MSC will be checking references and biographical data of the pre-candidates, and we will travel to various locations for a weekend with each individual candidate. Each weekend includes an extensive interview, a discussion of our community and facilities, and a worship service conducted by the pre-candidate in a neutral pulpit. Because confidentiality is a critical part of the ministerial selection process, the members of the search committee will be the only members of our church who will be attending these visits.

April through May, 2017 – Candidate Week and Selecting a Minister

After much discussion, debate, evaluation and analysis, by the end of April the MSC selects one final ministerial candidate. In late April/early May the candidate is presented to the congregation in person. This visit includes preaching at services for two Sundays in a row, attending meetings with key committees and groups, participating in social gatherings and other events, and interacting with members in a variety of ways. After the second Sunday Service, our congregation votes whether to call the new minister.

If the congregation votes to approve the minister, and the minister accepts, and ta-da! We will have a new minister!

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